When selecting a web host, there are 3 main things you need to consider; your budget, expected traffic and required support. Being the internet there are a multitude of businesses that offer web hosting services to cover all your needs, so I’m going to break it into 3 segments; Basic, Mid Range and high end.
Sharing Is Caring
Unless your’re already an established business with a huge customer base still waiting for you to have a web site, the chances of you getting thousands of visitors a day/week are minimal so instead of spending lots of money each month on dedicated hosting, for $20 per month your going to get enough disc space (room for your web site) and bandwidth for your customers to visit your site with out many issues with a share hosting service. When I shut down my DIY web service I recommended a number of different hosting companies to my clients, including Crucial whom I received positive feedback about.
I’ve found that below $20 per month you may start to have a few issues with your web site when it comes to speed etc, as the host is starting to cram a few too many web sites on the same server. There is an exception to this which I’ll talk about later.
If you want to spend a little more and select a web host that is 100% focused on providing support for WordPress web sites, WP Engine is a highly respected company. Due to being a speciality service there are limitations to what sort of plugins you can have on your WordPress install when it comes to caching and security as these are thing that they look after on the server level. In the end it means a few less things you need to worry about with your web site maintenance. To keep things in perspective a hosting package with WP Engine similar to Crucials is US$99 per month.
Levelling UP With VPS
When selecting a web host, its a good idea to see that they have packages available that will allow you to increase the amount of resources available. As you might start off on a share server where there are 10’s, 100’s or sometimes even 1000’s of web sites on the same server sharing the same resources. Though this is fine while your site is small, the more site visitors you have the more resources you’ll require, this is when its a good idea to upgrade to a VPS hosting package. A VPS or Virtual Private Server means that your web site will have a dedicated amount of CPU and RAM ensuring you web site always has plenty of resources to use.
Price can vary greatly with VPS options as it all depends on the level of service that you require. If you’re comfortable configuring and maintaining a web server then Digital Ocean is a great service, which starts at a great price ($5 per month), though this is an unmanaged they have some of the best documentation on server configuration I’ve ever seen and there’s a pretty good community backing you up as well. Be warned that managing your own web server to you rely on to keep your business online and safe for your customers is no small feat, that is why most businesses opt for a manage service. A managed VPS normally starts at about $250 per month, though a large jump from $5, how much would it cost to hire a SysOps to look after your web server ($5000+ per month…?) and how much is piece of mind worth, knowing that if there is zero day exploit released someone is already on to it.
Once on a VPS a general rule of thumb is that you should have 2Gb of RAM and 2 CPUs to keep things running smoothly. You may need more or less resources, as this become very site specific, so best to talk to you selected web host what they recommend.
Though your web host will be looking after the maintenance of your server, when it comes to maintaining your web site and the services that it requires, that is up to you (and your web developer) to look after. That’s where the fantastic web server application CPanel comes in. CPanel will allow you to add/edit common web setting such as, database, sub domains, some DNS settings, email, directory and file permissions, FTP accounts and much more. There are other applications that do the same thin, though CPanel is by far the most common in the Apache/PHP ecosystem.
If after reading this you’re now thinking, wow this is all too much, I just want a web site, there are now a lot of point and click DIY web services where you just register, select a theme and required features, enter your content and boom your done. Some companies that offer these types of services are SquareSpace, BigCommerce, Shopify and if you think at some point you may want more control over your web site then maybe WordPress.com is for you as it is simple to export your content into you own WordPress installation.
Due to the popularity of WordPress as a CMS, most web hosts will offer some sort of WordPress install, though not as complete as companies like WP Engine. While getting your web site up and running and attracting new customers, having your web site on a shared server will be fine, though there will be a time when you’ll want that extra bit of speed and reliability. When this time comes, talk to your selected web host about migrating your web site to a VPS.
Till next time,